Thistles

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Maybe I’ve been watching too much Outlander.  I’ve let thistles colonize a section of the garden.

Granted, it’s an underutilized site at the moment. Last year I tore out about 8 Ilex glabra that were supposed to be ‘Shamrock’, which only grow 3-4 ft, but were in fact the genus which grow to at least 5 ft wide and 8 ft high and were too wide, too tall and too diseased so out they came. I am planning on a replanting this fall. In the meantime, it remains unplanted, but not non-planted. No unplanted area in a garden remains unplanted for long…some plant will recognize the opportunity and move in, and so far it has been the  thistles.

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I don’t mind them having moved in. I’ve always liked thistles. They have rugged personalities and are often featured in fairy tales, two traits I like. And there is the fact that many species of butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and moths feed on them. The other fact is that Arkansas and Iowa list the entire  Cirsium genus as noxious weeds. But Massachusetts is far away from both of those states, so maybe here thistle is just a regular weed, not a noxious one.

Either way, the thistles are here to stay for this year. They’ve gotten so big – over 6 feet tall! – and thorny I would need a hazmat suit to get rid of them. And they are an interesting bloom. I’m all about pretty in the garden.

Hummingbird Delight

These photos were taken in a private backyard in Pine, Louisiana. The yard is on the hummingbird migratory path. The woman in the picture puts out sugar water for the hummingbirds and studies them. On the day the photos were taken, she decided to see what would happen if she put the bowl of sugar water in her hand. The birds were so comfortable with her that they drank right out of the bowl from her hand!

I plant lots of perennials to lure hummingbirds into my garden in suburban Boston, and they do come, but oh so fleetingly! I have never even had chance to take a photo. I would love to have them sit in my hand as in these photos and have my photo taken with them. But, on the other hand, like my garden itself, I consider the visit of a hummingbird an ephemeral event to be enjoyed in the moment, a reward from nature for the work I do in my garden to make it someplace a hummingbird will want to come to spend some time.

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